God-Thinking: Every Juror's Moral Brain, Religious Beliefs, and The Effects on a Trial Verdict

This book invites trial practitioners, attorneys, judges, and consultants to engage in new thinking about how jurors' moral compasses affect trial outcomes.
Publisher: LexisNexis

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A wide variety of moral compasses is sitting in every jury box! Jurors bring their religions and spiritual beliefs with them to court and rely upon personal moral compasses during deliberations. Every trial, civil or criminal, can become a battle of good and evil in the minds of the jurors, yet trial advocacy books have ignored this dynamic. This book invites trial practitioners, attorneys, judges, and consultants to engage in new thinking about how jurors' moral compasses affect trial outcomes.

Dr. SunWolf was a long-time trial and appellate attorney, now an award-winning social scientist and university professor, who takes the reader into the latest research about the psychology of good and evil and our believing brain--then points to specific ways every juror's religious thinking impacts a verdict, including:

•  The Neuroscience of Fair Play
•  The Social Psychology of Good and Evil
•  The God Gene and the Biology of Belief
•  The Science of Moral Dilemmas
•  Questionnaire Items that Uncover a Juror's Moral Compass
•  Voir Dire Questions and Conversations about the Jury Pool's Religious Thinking
•  Trial Tools and Motions that Take a Juror's God-Thinking Into Account
•  Pre-Trial Investigations that Reveal a Community's Religious Landscape

As trial practitioners, our job must deal with the variety of moral belief systems jurors are bringing to our courtrooms, in a manner that moves us towards fairer trials and more just verdicts.

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Table of contents



Chapter 1. The Social Psychology of Good and Evil

§ 1-1. Free Will and Determinism in the Garden of Good and Evil

§ 1-2. The Psychology of Good: Altruism and Helping Behaviors

§ 1-3. The Psychology of Evil: Aggression, Racism, Deception

§ 1-4. Forgiveness and Vengeance

§ 1-5. The Neuroscience of Fair Play

Chapter 2. Brain Science: The Biology of Right and Wrong Thinking

§ 2-1. The God Gene: Faith May Be Hard-Wired

§ 2-2. Brain Science and the Biology of Belief

§ 2-3. Where Morality Lives: Every Juror's Moral Brain

Chapter 3. Neurotheology and the Ethical Brain

§ 3-1. Neurotheology: Spiritual Neuroscience

§ 3-2. The Ethical Brain: The Science of Moral Dilemmas


Chapter 4. Religion in Our Jury Pools

§ 4-1. The Religious Landscape in Our Communities

§ 4-2. Venire

§ 4-3. Jury Selection

Chapter 5. Trial Events That Intersect with Religion

§ 5-1. Trial Days and Hours

§ 5-2. Oaths

§ 5-3. Credibility of Witnesses

§ 5-4. Evidence

§ 5-5. Instructions of Law

§ 5-6. Closing Arguments

§ 5-7. Deliberations

§ 5-8. Verdicts


Chapter 6. Jury Selection: Discovering the Moral Minds in a Jury Pool

§ 6-1. Voir Dire to Harvest and Explore a Juror's Moral Mind

§ 6-2. Voir Dire Strategies for Creating a Successful Challenge for Cause

§ 6-3. A 10-Step Challenge for Cause Dance

§ 6-4. Sample Approach to Developing a Challenge for Cause as Applied to Religious Beliefs

§ 6-5. Rethinking Questionnaire Items That Harvest God-Thinking Experiences

Chapter 7. Motions: Requests That Make a Difference

§ 7-1. Requests for Questionnaires That Deal with a Potential Juror's Religion

§ 7-2. Request for Voir Dire by Court on Issues Dealing with a Juror's Religious Beliefs

§ 7-3. Request for Opportunity to Voir Dire on Specific Religious Beliefs

§ 7-4. Request for Specific Accommodations for Jurors Based on Their Religious Beliefs and Practices

§ 7-5. Requests for Instructions to Jurors Limiting the Religious Material or Discussions That Might Occur During Trial or Deliberations

§ 7-6. Challenge to Jury Venire Based on Non-Representative Methods of Assembling the Venire

Chapter 8. Appellate Courts: God and Religion on Appeal

Chapter 9. Pre-Trial Investigations That Reveal Religious Landscapes

§ 9-1. Religious Scene Investigations [RSI]

§ 9-2. Background Checks


Religion Is a Spiritual Lens for Judging Other People

The Red Queen Effect

Tread Lightly: Caveats


A. Web Sites and Blogs About Religion

B. Sample Law Review Articles

C. Exemplar Court Opinions Involving Jurors and Religion

D. Fields v. Brown: An Appellate Decision Demonstrating

How Jurors Bring Religion into Deliberations

E. Books That Deepen an Understanding of Good & Evil in the Jury Room


About the Author